I haven't ran double digit miles since the last week of October. In fact the longest run was a 6.2 mile run last weekend. I knew that I had to A) get a double digit run in before the 50k, and B) run in the hills with double digits in order to simulate the 50k conditions.
I've always felt that all the conditioning a runner needs in order to be able to complete a marathon or 50k is to be able to run 12-13 miles in similar conditions to the intended race (i.e. road for a road marathon, hills for a trail marathon or 50k). Anything beyond 12-13 is all heart and your ability to be on your feet for that long. Not too mention that any running beyond 12-13 is where you would improve your time. But all you need is 12-13. So I knew I had to run at least 12 in the mountains today.
So I turned to my favorite hill running place cause it has some long hills, steep inclines, gradual climbs and so on. It has it all. So off to Lexington Dam I went. At first I thought I was screwed for next weekend, but then things fell in to place.
First Lap - 4 miles (41 minutes)
The first lap starts at the dam parking lot and goes immediately up a very steep hill. I decided for some idiotic reason to run the first hill, which is about a quarter mile long, and then cruise down the hill for the next 1.75 miles. Huge mistake. My body isn't used to that type of running so I was dead tired after only .25 in to my intended 12 mile run. My saliva was thick, I was breathing heavy and my legs were heavy. I already started questioning myself and thinking maybe I should only do one loop and call it a day. I felt like this for the first 2.5 miles despite all down hill after the first steep hill. How could I possibly consider a trail 50k if I could barely complete a 4 mile trail run?
Things improved drastically. My breathing came under control, a little water helped my saliva and the gradual uphill stretched my legs out. When all was said and done I ran it in 41 minutes. No too bad. I was rejuvenated.
Lap Two - 4 miles (42 minutes)
Lap two is arguably harder than lap 1 because the uphill, though not as steep, stretches for over a mile. So after I turned around and ran down the dam, doing the previous loop in reverse, I was able to make up some good time. I eventually got to the top of the hill and knew that I would easily be able to run a third lap. I came in at 42 minutes, which shocked me. A harder loop and yet I ran it almost the same. In fact I don't think I have ever ran this loop this fast.
Lap 3 - 4 miles (42 minutes)
After I reached the dam again I turned around and repeated lap 1. This time, however, I was not going to repeat lap 1's mistake. I walked the whole first quarter mile. Got to the top and cruised down, feeling great as I opened up and ran downhill fast than I had all day. I eventually took the long and gradual climb back up the dam, walking a couple of steeps, before coming in to the car in just under 2:06, or a 42 minute third lap.
I couldn't believe that I had ran such consistent laps, something I have never been able to do here. I've ran these loops a lot and always tired and ran a much slower lap. In fact I have only ran the three loop combo once and that was at the prime of my running last year. I ran it today 7 minutes faster.
I think that I will be able to complete the 50k. Maybe not my best, but I know I can complete it. Only problem is that it is supposed to rain all week, including Friday night and some on Saturday. If this happens will I have to bow out? I don't think I want to run a 50k in mud and rain. I guess play it by ear, but it isn't looking too good. But that doesn't take away from my absolutely great run today...